The Mil Mi-26 “Halo,” renowned as the world’s largest and most powerful heavy-lift helicopter, embodies the pinnacle of aviation engineering. Capable of transporting unprecedented payloads, the Mi-26 serves critical roles in both military and civilian operations globally. Its unmatched capacity and versatility have established it as an indispensable asset in logistics, disaster relief, and construction, showcasing the epitome of aerial might and utility.

MIL Helicopters
1980 to: Present
US$25 million
Groza 7A813 weather radar,PKV-26-1 flight navigation system.
2x 2 × Lotarev D-136 turboshafts
11,400 horsepower
Max Cruise Speed:
138 knots
256 Km/h
Approach Speed (Vref):
Travel range:
1,054 Nautical Miles
1,952 Kilometers
Fuel Economy:
0.38 nautical mile / gallon
0.186 kilometres / litre
Service Ceiling:
15,100 feet
Rate of Climb:
1522 feet / minute
7.73metre / second
Take Off Distance:
Landing Distance:
Max Take Off Weight:
56,000 Kg
123,458 lbs
Max Landing Weight:
Max Payload:
20,000 Kg
44,092 lbs
Fuel Tank Capacity:
3,170 gallon
12,000 litre
Baggage Volume:
6.16 m3 / 218 ft3
Seats - Economy / General:
90 seats
Seats - Business Class:
65 seats
Seats - First Class:
Cabin Height:
3.2 metre - 10.50 feet
Cabin Width:
3.3 metre - 10.83 feet
Cabin Length:
12.1 metre - 39.70 feet
Exterior Length:
40.03 metre - 131.33 feet
Tail height:
8.15 metre - 26.74 feet
Fuselage Diameter:
3.6 metre - 11.81 feet
Wing Span / Rotor Diameter:
32 metre - 104.99 feet
Wing Tips:
No Winglets

The Mil Mi-26 “Halo” stands as the epitome of heavy-lift helicopter engineering, a true colossus in the world of aviation. Designed and built by the Soviet Union, and continuing its legacy into the modern Russian aerospace industry, the Mi-26 is unmatched in its capacity, size, and power. This aerial behemoth plays a pivotal role in both military and civilian operations, showcasing an unparalleled ability to transport large cargoes, including other aircraft.

History and Development

The origins of the Mil Mi-26 trace back to the 1970s, born from the necessity for a helicopter with double the capacity of its predecessors. It made its first flight in 1977, entering service in 1983. Since then, the Mi-26 has been a symbol of Soviet and Russian ingenuity, setting multiple world records for lifting capabilities and serving in numerous roles across the globe.

Design and Features

The design of the Mi-26 is a marvel of engineering, featuring an eight-blade main rotor, the largest ever fitted to a helicopter, which allows it to lift unprecedented weights. Its airframe is constructed to optimize lifting capacity while maintaining structural integrity. The “Halo” is distinguished by its ability to carry up to 20 tons of cargo inside its cavernous hold or on an external sling, making it the world’s heaviest lifting helicopter.

Technical Specifications

The technical prowess of the Mi-26 is evident in its specifications: a maximum takeoff weight of around 56,000 kg, a length of 40 meters, and a height of 8.145 meters. It can reach a maximum speed of 295 km/h, with a range of 800 kilometers without refueling. Its operational ceiling is approximately 4,600 meters, showcasing its capability to perform in a variety of environments.


Military Applications

In military contexts, the Mi-26 is invaluable for transporting heavy equipment, including armored vehicles, and large troop contingents. Its capacity for rapid deployment of resources directly to the front lines or disaster zones underscores its strategic importance.

Civilian Applications

Civilly, the Mi-26 is utilized in heavy-lift operations such as construction, especially in remote or inaccessible areas. It has played crucial roles in disaster relief, moving large volumes of aid, and in firefighting missions, capable of carrying massive water buckets to combat forest fires.

Notable Operations

The Mi-26 has been part of numerous significant operations, from humanitarian missions following natural disasters to record-breaking lifts. One memorable mission involved the helicopter carrying a 25-ton block of Antarctic ice to Expo ’92 in Seville, Spain, showcasing its unique capabilities on a global stage.

Advantages and Limitations

The strengths of the Mi-26 lie in its unmatched lifting power and versatility, capable of operating in diverse environments from Arctic cold to desert heat. However, its size and operational costs present challenges, particularly in terms of logistics, maintenance, and fuel consumption. Despite these limitations, the “Halo” remains in a class of its own, with no direct competitors in its heavy-lift category.


The Mil Mi-26 “Halo” is more than just a helicopter; it is a testament to human ingenuity and engineering excellence. Its significant contributions to both military and civilian sectors highlight its versatility and capability. As the largest and most powerful helicopter ever produced, the Mi-26 continues to be a vital asset in operations around the world, embodying the spirit of innovation that drives the aviation industry forward. With each lift, the “Halo” not only moves cargo but also advances the boundaries of what is possible in the skies.

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